decision from the FAA on the use of drones for production is expected
in a few months.
it continues to reluctantly consider the use of unmanned aerial
vehicles (UAVs, also known as "drones") for newsgathering,
citing consumer privacy issues, the Federal Aviation Administration
is considering allowing production companies to use the POV-style
cameras in controlled film and TV production environments.
to a report in the industry publication Variety, which quoted the
agency, a number of video production companies have asked the FAA for
an exemption that would allow for the use of UAVs.
this year's NAB Show in Las Vegas, Drones were a hot item with
professional production attendees.
the exemption requests are granted, there could be tangible economic
benefits as the agency begins to address the demand for commercial
UAS operations," Variety quoted the FAA. "However, all the
associated safety issues must be carefully considered to make sure
any hazards are properly mitigated."
production companies reportedly are asking for exemptions from
general flight rules, pilot certificate requirements, manuals,
maintenance and equipment mandates, as well as airworthiness
the controlled environment of a motion picture set to video shoot
might appear to be more palatable for the FAA, using drones for
newsgathering remains a sticky issue. Earlier this year a
photographer for WFSB, the local CBS affiliate in Hartford,
Connecticut, was suspended from his job for a week after using his
drone to videotape a fatal car accident.
police got involved and contacted the station, which in turn
suspended Pedro Rivera, who said he was using the drone on his own
time. After learning of the incident, the FAA immediately said it
would investigate the case. A final report has not been issued.
Rivera was reinstated within a
and told not to carry station identification while flying his UAV.
an individual, Rivera is allowed to film accident and crime scenes as
long as he does not interfere with the police investigation. The FAA
has said that flying a drone for commercial purposes, including
journalism, is illegal, although more than a dozen news and
media organizations (including the Associated Press, The New York
Times Company, and the National Press Photographers Association) as
well as the Society of Drone Journalists, have vehemently opposed the
FAA's ban, claiming that the agency's restrictions violate First
Amendment protections afforded to journalists.
ban was overturned by a National Transportation Safety Board ruling
in March, due in part to its lobbying efforts. The FAA is appealing
to published reports, the news organizations have filed a brief
with the NTSB asking that it to confirm the judge's ruling and
continue to block similar bans until the FAA makes an exception for
the use of small drones.
overly broad policy ... has an impermissible chilling
effect on the First Amendment newsgathering rights of journalists,"
the group's brief states. "The federal government, through the
FAA and with the NTSB's encouragement, should move forward with the
development of polices that protect, rather than hinder, freedom of
speech and of the press."
support of using drones for controlled production environments, Neil
Fried, Senior Vice President of government and regulatory affairs for
the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), told Variety that
the use of the unmanned aircraft offers the motion picture and
television industry "an innovative and safer option for filming.
The new tool for storytellers will allow for creative and exciting
aerial shots, the latest in new technologies being used by our
industry to further enhance the viewer experience."
FAA has noted that other industries have also asked for exemptions,
including precision agriculture, power line and pipeline inspection,
and oil and gas flare stack inspection, according to Variety.